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From automation to autonomy: Streamlining processes with BPM

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In a world where generative AI, cloud architecture, and bots have become normative to the enterprise, the single most definitive aspect of business process management (BPM) is automation.

The names (and acronyms) describing that automation—including hyperautomation, intelligent process automation (IPA), digital process automation (DPA), and a slew of others have changed across time. The technologies supporting them have as well. But the fundamentals of BPM (involving workflow management, process optimization, case management, and more) will likely never change. They'll simply become more accessible to organizations via the numerous forms of automation characterizing this discipline, which are a microcosm of those impacting the data landscape as a whole.

Salient facets of contemporary BPM—and the automation supporting them—revolve around these processes:

No-Code and Low-Code Tooling: Options that automate the coding required to build applications or workflows have become inseparable from achieving the core objectives of BPM. According to Jon Huang, ServiceNow director of outbound product management for App Engine, those objectives encompass “more complex, ad hoc types of use cases. The definition of that is typically when a use case requires multiple people from multiple departments to collaborate together.”

Data Integration: Implicit to Huang's definition of BPM’s objectives is the need to integrate data sources from disparate systems across the enterprise, which is central to making BPM useful.

Process Mining and Task Mining: The capabilities to improve the efficiency of individual tasks and processes, respectively, within workflows are critical to maximizing the value of BPM systems.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA): Although RPA is technically considered distinct from BPM, most BPM vendors readily incorporate increasingly intelligent digital agents as part of the automation attending to customers’ core needs.

When combined with foundational facets of knowledge management, such as business rules management, as well as newer developments in generative AI, these dimensions of automation streamline processes in a business climate that are otherwise prone to fragmentation, redundancy, and error.

No-code applications

In its current incarnation, BPM is exemplified via point and-click, drag-and-drop, no-code mechanisms that enable users to stitch together processes that are automatable. Since no-code options don’t involve coding, they’re “usually for simplistic use cases," Huang commented. Examples include applications for scheduling, calendars, or building surveys or registration forms for customers. The visual approach to arranging on-screen elements that underpin this methodology broadens application development beyond conventional developers or programmers.

In some situations, however, users can develop remarkably sophisticated applications “without any code at all,” maintained Anthony Abdulla, senior director of product marketing for Pega’s Intelligent Automation team. These BPM systems enable users to define the purpose of a workflow (such as onboarding for human resources or completing a loan application), enumerate the stages involved in it, and modify them as needed. “You can also define who’s part of that unique process,” Abdulla specified. “You can define the back-office people for that application and the screens they can leverage for it.”

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